A Christmas crossword (oh, no it isn’t!) by Khatru
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
Today’s puzzle has a seasonal theme. As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.
A review by Abanazar follows. Writing this review, I feel a little like a pantomime villain. To get so much thematic material in the solutions was impressive but, I fear, having done so, any attention to the details in the clues themselves suffered by trying to get them to match the theme. The balance of the clues also suffered with far too many anagrams, subtractive anagrams and use of initial letters which gave the puzzle an unbalanced feel and also led to too many repetitions of wordplay indicators. The use of an indirect anagram in 16d was the icing on the cake.
There were some sprinklings of stardust in the clues and the opening ones in both the across and down clues showed promise. I feel as though Khatru began with some good ideas but then laboured on with the clues that followed and became bogged down. Sometimes, when setting a crossword, if you begin to get bogged down, it is a good idea to stop for a while and come back to the grid later with a fresh mind and new ideas.
The commentometer reads as 8/30 or 26.7%
1 Horrors! In the beginning, Abanazer loses Aladdin, recaptures monkey sidekick (6)
ALARMS – The initial letters (in the beginning} of the last six words of the clue.
4 Thespians in cast dancing, bearing gold (6)
ACTORS – An anagram (dancing) of CAST includes (bearing) the heraldic word of gold.
9 Sailor could be lead character in 17 (4)
JACK – Double definition for a sailor and a pantomime character.
10 Put-upon kitchen maid used lid cleaner in 17 (10)
CINDERELLA – An anagram (used) of LID CLEANER.
11 Stand by among characters where Dame had her entrance (6)
ADHERE – The answer is hidden (among characters) in the final three words of the clue. Try to avoid adding padding words that do not contribute to the wordplay.
12 Dreadful actor starts in the Yuletide abomination (8)
ATROCITY – An anagram (dancing) of ACTOR followed by the initial letters (starts in) of the last three words of the clue.
13 Romeo missing from adaptation of winter show for 17 (4,5)
SNOW WHITE – An anagram (adaptation) of WINTER SHOW without (missing) the letter represented by Romeo in the NATO phonetic alphabet.
15 Primarily, lantern Aladdin must polish (4)
LAMP – The initial letters (primarily) of the final four words of the clue. Try to avoid repeating solutions (such as 1d) in other clues.
16 Echoing Dandini’s introduction produces unconventional art (4)
DADA – A repetition (echoing) of the first two letters (introduction) in Dandini. Initial letter indicators such as introduction should be used to refer only to the first letter, not an indeterminate number of letters.
17 Criticise return of record company test for production (9)
PANTOMIME – A three-letter word meaning to criticise followed by a reversal (return of) a three-letter record company and a three-letter abbreviation for an annual test required for cars.
22 17 in safe vessel (5,3)
PETER PAN – A five-letter word for a safe followed by a three-letter word for a cooking vessel.
23 US thespian acted Hook unusually, losing to a rewrite (2,4)
ED KOCH – An anagram (unusually) of ACTED HOOK after removing (losing) an anagram (rewrite) of TOA.
25 Riches setter secures in 17 (10)
GOLDILOCKS – A four-letter word for riches followed by a single letter representing the setter and a five-letter word meaning secures.
26 Three characters from the opening of ‘Puss in Boots’ pursue an Oscar for production (4)
OPUS – The first three letter from “Puss” after (pursue) the letter represented by Oscar in the NATO phonetic alphabet.
27 Most clever stepsister evilly indiscriminate after departure of perverted, vile priest (6)
SLYEST – An anagram (indiscriminate) of STEPSISTER EVILLY after removing (departure of) an anagram (perverted) of VILE PRIEST.
28 Production of ‘Peter Pan’ uses some of its characters to get bums on seats (6)
ANUSES – The answer is hidden (some of its characters) in the fourth and fifth words of the clue. At the risk of writing an essay on the clue (i) it had too many padding words “Production of Peter” do not contribute to the wordplay (ii) try to avoid repeating solutions (such as 22a) verbatim in clues (iii) try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators (such as characters to indicate hidden words as in 11a) (iv) the definition “bums on seats” does not really define the solution (v) the use of this word as the solution jars given the theme and the nature of the crossword.
1 Uproar follows a youth in 17 (7)
ALADDIN – A three-letter word for an uproar follows the A from the clue and a three-letter word for a youth.
2 Joint where Lord Edward starts to go after Twankey’s heart (5)
ANKLE – The initial letters (starts) of Lord Edward after the middle three letters (heart) of Twanky. Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators such as starts (see 12a). The heart of a word is its middle letter.
3 Principal Boy and me chat about theatrical production (7)
MACBETH – An anagram (about) of B ME CHAT, the B being the first letter (principal) of boy.
5 Applause from the audience – let’s drink to that! (6)
CHEERS – Double definition.
6 Ask too much of opening duo in overture before miracle play (9)
OVERCLAIM – The first two letter (opening duo) in overture before an anagram (play) of MIRACLE. Try to avoid repeating wordplay indicators such as opening (see 26a).
7 Break up naughty pupils overshadowing Tinkerbell’s introduction (5,2)
SPLIT UP – An anagram (naughty) of PUPILS before (overshadowing) the first letter (introduction) of Tinkerbell. The second word of the solution is given verbatim in the clue. Perhaps using “Separate” instead of “break up” would have been better.
8 Acting? Not completely! (2,4)
IN PART -Double definition.
14 Magic wands eyed on midweek date – possibly in Sheffield? (9)
WEDNESDAY – An anagram (magic) of WANDS EYED. A date is not a day. More importantly, the clue breaks down to wordplay ON definition, which does not work.
16 Hunky Eastender gets mixed up with evil spirits (7)
DAEMONS – An anagram (gets mixed up) of ‘ANDSOME (how an Eastender might say handsome (hunky). The dreaded indirect anagram makes a return. The rule is that for anagrams, the words to be rearranged must be given directly in the clue. Expecting the solver to get from hunky to handsome, drop the H and make an anagram of the letters that remain is too many steps too far.
18 Jack & Giant, out of bounds, meet resistance: confounded plant! (6)
ARNICA – An anagram (confounded) of the inner letters (out of bounds) of jACk and gIANt and the abbreviation for resistance (ANIANR).
19 Mutiny as foolish actress, not having succeeded, loses top of costume before opening night starts (7)
TREASON – An anagram (foolish) of ACTRESS without (not having) the abbreviation for succeeded and without the first letter (top) of costume all followed by the initial letters (starts) of opening night. Another repetition of starts for indicating an initial letter. I think with this clue and the preceding one, the setter has run away with trying to maintain the theme and produced clues that become overelaborate.
20 Farces with Cinderella’s opening replaced with the start of ‘Medea’? Dummies! (4-3)
MOCK-UPS – A seven letter word for farces with the initial C (Cinderella’s opening) replaced by the initial letter (start) of Medea. Another clue where a solution to another clue appears verbatim in this clue. We also have a repetition of opening and starts as initial letter indicators. As start was also used in the previous clue, this is even more noticeable.
21 Seasons Fairy Godmother’s cast (6)
SPELLS – Double definition.
24 Buttons initially knows nothing of Baron’s schemes (5)
KNOBS – The initial letters (initially) of the final five words of the clue.